Gov's £20m Turing fellowship to boost UK AI research

The Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships will benefit 15 of the UK’s top AI innovators

The government has unveiled a new fund that will inject £20 million into artificial intelligence (AI) research and development projects.

Named after the famous World War II codebreaker, the Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships will benefit 15 of the UK’s top AI innovators.

One of the recipients is Professor Christopher Yau from the University of Manchester, who aims to improve the methods of tracking cancer by using AI to predict its development before it is fully formed, improving patients’ survival and recovery rates.

“I am very excited to have been awarded this Fellowship which will enable me to conduct ground-breaking research at the intersection of genomics and artificial intelligence,” said Yau, adding that the research into genes “will yield unprecedented amounts of data which necessitate the use of AI for their interpretation”.

Other examples of projects backed by the fellowship include using AI to increase workplace productivity, research into natural language and machine learning, as well as the development of an “AI clinical colleague” which aims to assist doctors by recommending the most effective drug prescriptions and doses for patients.

Commenting on the announcement of the new fellowship, science minister Amanda Solloway described the UK as “the birthplace of artificial intelligence”.

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“We have a duty to equip the next generation of Alan Turings with the tools that will keep the UK at the forefront of this remarkable technological innovation,” she said. “The inspirational fellows we are backing today will use AI to tackle some of our greatest challenges head on, transforming how people live, work and communicate, cementing the UK’s status as a world leader in AI and data.”

Digital minister Caroline Dinenage said that “the fellowships form part of a major government investment in AI skills and research, including 16 Centres for Doctoral Training in AI and conversion courses to train the next generation of AI experts, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in October 2019”.

Earlier this year, the government published its Research and Development Roadmap, aiming to improve innovation within the UK. In June, it also announced a £200 million support package for startups working on cutting-edge projects called the 'Sustainable Innovation Fund'.

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